Posted on Jun 26, 2009, 2 p.m.
By gary clark
Elderly people at risk for heart disease are more likely to suffer a fatal heart attack if they show increased levels of three inflammation markers in their blood, a study has shown.
While inflammation is the body's immune response to injury, the medical community also believes that it impacts cardiovascular disease. In fact, previous studies have shown that there is a relationship between high levels of inflammation markers in the circulation and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Now a new study by a group of researchers from the University of Glasgow has been conducted to examine the relationship between three inflammation markers and fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular events.
The researchers used data collected from an existing trial known as the Prospective Study of Pravastatin in the Elderly at Risk on participants between the ages of 70 and 82, who had or were at risk for cardiovascular disease. The researchers specifically looked at whether three inflammation markers - interleukin-6 (IL-6), C-reactive protein (CRP) and fibrinogen - were more strongly associated with fatal events than with non-fatal events over the three-year period.
The researchers found that for elderly people at risk for cardiovascular disease, the presence of inflammatory markers in the blood can identify that the individual is at a higher risk of a fatal, rather than a non-fatal, heart attack or stroke. Moreover, the IL-6 marker in particular was found to have the strongest association. In addition, the investigators looked at whether it would be beneficial to include these markers in tools designed to determine an individual's risk for heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular problems. As reported in the journal PLoS Medicine, they suggested that adding IL-6 to other risk factors, such as smoking and high blood pressure, may contribute to more effective identification of people at risk of fatal cardiovascular events.
The researchers understand that the study results need to be confirmed with a younger population, but believe their findings should promote additional research into whether the application of inflammatory markers may help better predict the risk of deaths from cardiovascular disease, and whether new types of treatment that decrease inflammation could help extend life.
News Release: Inflammation markers linked more with fatal than nonfatal cardiovascular events in elderly www.eurekalert.org June 22, 2009